THE UK Government’s decision to delay its budget until March is an “inconvenience” to residents in East Renfrewshire, council leader Tony Buchanan has said.

Chancellor Sajid Javid won’t unveil his spending plans until March 11 – the same day Scottish councils have to set their tax rates.

However, Scottish Government Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has announced he will publish his budget on February 6, to “give local authorities and public services clarity.”

Councillor Buchanan has criticised the UK Government’s position – and revealed his council will stick to its February 27 budget date.

“This is either gross incompetence by the UK Government or a real attempt to undermine devolution, Scotland and its citizens,” he said.

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“In East Renfrewshire, we are still planning to set our budget and council tax on February 27. But this decision by the UK Government leaves us with the headache of having to second guess what the impact on our frontline services will be because we don’t know what our levels of funding are.

“We will be required to adjust our budget later in the year and, as well as an inconvenience to staff and all of our residents, there will be additional costs incurred in doing that.”

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) warned Mr Javid of the risk facing Scottish councils as a result of the delay.

“The UK Government is putting thousands of essential public services at risk of going without funding,” said COSLA resources spokesperson councillor Gail Macgregor.

“As the employer for 10 per cent of Scotland’s workforce and a procurer of more than £6.3billion in goods, we are the key economic driver for communities across the country. Any delay to our budgets means these services are put at risk.

“COSLA is calling on the UK Government to provide Scotland with an increased settlement so the Scottish Government can provide councils with enough funding to deliver the vital services our communities rely on.”

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In response to Mr Mackay’s decision, COSLA president councillor Alison Evison said: “I am extremely pleased the Scottish Government has listened and responded to calls from COSLA for an early Scottish budget.

“I wrote last week to Mr Mackay, highlighting that in these exceptional circumstances it is vital that all spheres of government in Scotland work together to protect and support the essential services that local government provides every day to individuals, families and communities.”

Mr Mackay said the UK Government’s approach was “completely unacceptable” and showed a “lack of fiscal responsibility.”

“The timing of the UK budget made it impossible for us to publish our own budget after the UK Government’s without drastically restricting the time for parliamentary scrutiny,” he added.

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“In these exceptional circumstances, it is vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budget. That is why we have made the decision to publish our budget in February, which will allow local authorities to set their budgets and council tax before the legal deadline of March 11.”

After Mr Javid’s announcement, a Treasury spokesperson said: “Nothing stops the Scottish Parliament from passing their budget before the UK budget.

“We are working with the Scottish Government as part of an agreed process to provide the information they need to prepare their budget.

“At the Spending Round, we announced that the Scottish Government’s block grant will increase by £1.2billion next year.